‘Innocence of Muslims’ Filmmaker Sentenced to Year in Prison After Plea Deal
The man behind an anti-Muslim YouTube video that has been blamed for riots and deaths in Benghazi, Libya, and has been discussed by President Barack Obama was sentenced Wednesday to a year in prison.
The Associated Press reported that U.S. District Court Judge Christina Snyder sentenced Mark Basseley Youssef after he admitted to four of the eight violations he had been accused of, including using multiple names in violation of parole and obtaining a fraudulent California driver's license.
Youssef, who allegedly also goes by the names Sam Bacile and Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, gained notoriety as the "filmmaker" behind The Innocence of Muslims, a 14-minute "trailer" that popped up on YouTube.
The video portrays the Muslim prophet Muhammad as a womanizing degenerate and a fraud, and when it was noticed on YouTube two months ago it set off riots in the Muslim world.
Cindy Garcia, an actress who appeared in Innocence of Muslims, told The Hollywood Reporter that "Bacile" wrote the script. She also said that he dubbed in anti-Muslim dialogue that was never spoken by her or the other actors.
The video has become a hotly contested political issue, with Republicans accusing the Obama administration of blaming the murder of U.S. Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens and three others on the video when it was, they say, a preplanned terrorist attack timed for the anniversary of 9/11. The video was also brought up as a topic in one of the presidential debates between Obama and former Republican challenger Mitt Romney.
Youssef's one-year prison sentence handed down Wednesday had nothing to do with the content of the video, but focused on probation violations stemming from his conviction in 2010 of bank fraud.
Youssef's attorney, Steven Seiden, was unavailable for comment. In court, he argued unsuccessfully for Youssef to be placed under home confinement, but instead he'll be remanded to a Southern California prison, according to the AP.
Since late September, Youssef has been at the Metropolitan Detention Center where, say insiders, he has been restricted from speaking to the press.
The AP story states: “Federal authorities initially sought a two-year sentence for Youssef but settled on a one-year term after negotiating a deal with Youssef's attorneys. Prosecutors said they wouldn't pursue new charges against Yousseff — namely making false statements — and would drop the remaining four probation-violation allegations leveled against him. But Youssef was placed on four years' probation and must be truthful about his identity and his future finances.”